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Friday, May 8, 2009

Russia stands firm on Iran arms sale

Fri, 08 May 2009 | PressTV

Moscow stands firm on its military-technical cooperation with Tehran, saying Iran has a clean record when it comes to using Russian-made weapons.

"The weapons [Moscow] has sold to Iran have never been used against any other country," said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in a Friday interview with Russia Today.

Lavrov said that Georgia, as opposed to Iran, has used Russian-made weapons "to kill Russians, to kill civilians, including Russian peacekeepers who are serving under the international agreement signed by Georgia."

The top Russian diplomat asserted that Moscow sells exclusively defensive systems to Tehran; therefore, there is no room for Western concern.

"Whatever we sell to Iran or to any other country is not covered by any prohibitions internationally or nationally. In the Russian Federation, we have one of the strictest export control legislation. And whatever we sell to Iran in particular is only of defensive nature," Lavrov added.

Moscow walked a tightrope of criticism after Russia's state-run arms exporter Rosoboronexport confirmed in December that it is supplying Iran with a number of defensive systems -- one of which was the S-300 interceptor.

Iran has been interested in the sophisticated S-300 surface-to-air system to enhance its defensive prowess against a potential Israeli attack on the country's nuclear infrastructure.

Washington and Tel Aviv, meanwhile, lashed out in fury over the sale of the S-300, which according to Israeli and American intelligence sources, would make Iran's nuclear facilities "inviolable" in the face of Israeli air strikes.

According to Israeli sources on Monday, Moscow has been rather shady on the issue so far and has not taken the required steps to address Tel Aviv's concern.

The most we have at this point is "a vague assurance" that the deal is not going ahead, an Israeli source told Reuters on conditions of anonymity.

"The Russians don't make promises of this kind," said another Israeli defense source while criticizing Russia's mixed message on its alleged $800 million deal with Iran.

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